Grüner Veltliner is a dry white wine that grows almost solely in Austria
Austria has a total of 36 grape varieties – 22 white and 14 red – that are officially approved for the production of Qualitätswein (“quality wine”).
The most important grape is the Grüner Veltliner. It’s also autochthonous, which means it originates in the area. In fact, it is the dominant varietal in six of the 16 Austrian wine regions, and often the one that applies for the DAC: Weinviertel, Kremstal, Kamptal, Traisental, Wachau, and Wagram.
- 31% of Austrian vineyards grow Grüner Veltliner.
- Of all white wines produced in Austria, 47% is Grüner Veltliner. In second place we’ve got the Welschriesling, which totals at 11%.
The flavour of Grüner Veltliner:
Grüner Veltliner can result in loads of different styles. Classically, it ends up crisp and fruity with hints of citrus (lime, lemon and grapefruit) and peach, and something herbaceous and green, referred to in Austria as ‘Pfefferl’, which translates to a hint of white pepper.
On the other side there is also a mineralic and pure style of Grüner Veltliner that is grown in the steep vineyards Kremstal, Kamptal, Traisental and Wachau above the Danube. It offers creaminess and hints of ripe fruits, and when harvested at a later point, even notes of nut and honey. These are the Grüner Veltliner that are happy to be stored in your cellar to sleep until the colour darkens and touches of tobacco and dark honeys come through.
What all Grüner Veltliner have in common are their signature acidity. Makes them crisp and clear when they are young, and keeps em perky as they age.
At the table
Grüner Veltliner is never dull and one is never quite like the next. This makes it fantastic to pair with a variety of dishes. Young and zesty, they are served to go with the local fare eaten at Viennese wine taverns called Heuriger. The self-serve menu generally includes a variety of cold cuts, pickles, cheeses and spreads, eaten with sourdough and dark breads. This tasty but very rich food is perfectly balanced by the acidity of a young Grüner Veltliner.
And when you are cooking at home, serve this young wine with rich dishes such as fried calamari, grilled fish and Sarah drinks it with hot dogs. The riper ones from the regions surrounding the Danube will go well with creamy dishes, think risottos, and chicken or fish with a creamy base. And, new on the food pairing radar is Grüner Veltliner with Asian food! Of course, very aromatic as well as very spicy dishes go better with a Riesling, but Vietnamese and Thai meals can be beautifully combined with an Austrian Grüner Veltliner. Give it a go!
Crisp & fruity Grüner Veltliner:
Ripe & mature Grüner Veltliner:
Grüner Veltliner is also be found in the Czech Republic, where it is called Veltlínské zelené and is the second most grown grape varietal (at 11%). Some very small quantities are also being grown in New Zealand and the U.S., but it is first and foremost an Austrian wine.
Facts to impress your friends with – St. Georgener
The Grüner Veltliner grape originates from a cross between two grape varietals. For a very long time, the only one we could identify by DNA analysis was the Traminer. However, in 2000, a local archeologist discovered a single lonely and weak vine in an abandoned vineyard in St. Georgen, a village just outside Eisenstadt in the Burgenland. He sent it to the wine school in Klosterneuburg for analysis, but received no response. It was only when the vine was about to be pulled up and destroyed some five years later, that it was actually analysed.
Surprise! Turns out this one plant was a unique varietal, and had all 19 chromosomes in common with the Grüner Veltliner. Shortly after, it was officially recognized as the second parent of the Grüner Veltliner grape, and named St. Georgener, after the village in which it was found. That one St. Georgener vine was cultivated again after its discovery, and as of 2016, the first St. Georgener wine was made available.
There you go, cheers!